USMNT: ‘We’re not finished yet,’ says Walker Zimmerman ahead of knockout stages



CNN

After a 1-0 victory over Iran, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) secured a spot in the knockout stages of the World Cup, players insist their campaign is far from over.

After failing to qualify for the last World Cup, the tournament in Qatar is the first time since 2014 that Al-Ittihad has reached the last 16, which comes thanks to hard-fought draws against Wales and England before Tuesday’s victory over Iran.

The team is now setting its sights on higher ambitions.

“We’re not done yet,” defender Walker Zimmerman said in an interview on CNN’s “This Morning” on Wednesday. “I think the narrative continues, we’re still trying to do that and achieve our goal of winning the World Cup.

“I think if we can do that, we’ll inspire a lot of young players, a lot of young Americans to play the sport, and hopefully make them proud.”

The USMNT’s best World Cup performance in recent memory was reaching the quarterfinals in 2002 before losing to Germany.

Greg Berhalter’s side go into Saturday’s knockout game against the Netherlands as the underdogs, eight places behind their opponent in the FIFA world rankings.

But this is unlikely to shake the team’s confidence.

“It’s good to get to the next round, but we want to keep going,” Berhalter told This Morning.

“We had two tournaments to look forward to: a group stage tournament and a knockout tournament. And now, here we are in the knockout phase, we just want to keep this thing going.”

Against Iran, Christian Pulisic scored the only goal of the match before leaving the field with an abdominal injury.

Pulisic was injured after scoring the only goal for the United States against Iran.

Berhalter said Pulisic would be “hopefully” fit to play against the Netherlands and praised the Chelsea player’s talent and work ethic.

Speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America, USMNT captain Tyler Adams said Pulisic “put everything on the line.”

“He’s fine, he’s in great spirits,” Adams added. “It feels a lot better now, but what a big player he is for us, he shows up in the biggest moments. We depend on him a lot in the big moments.”

Much of the preparations for Tuesday’s game between the United States and Iran focused on the political tensions between the two countries.

Iranian state media called for the United States to be expelled from the tournament after American football changed the Iranian flag on its social media accounts to show support for protesters in Iran.

CNN’s governing body said it wanted to change the official 24-hour flag to show “support for women in Iran who are fighting for basic human rights” but always planned to return to the original flag.

Iran emerged at the World Cup in the shadow of domestic turmoil following widespread protests sparked by the death of Mohsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police, allegedly for failing to adhere to the country’s conservative dress code. . Iranian security forces have since unleashed a violent response to the protests.

Josh Sargent and Ramin Rezaian embrace after Tuesday's game.

There are concerns about the safety of Iranian players returning home after the team initially refused to sing the Iranian national anthem before their first game in an apparent show of solidarity with the protesters. A source concerned with the security of the games said that the team’s parents were also threatened with imprisonment and torture before the match.

At the end of Tuesday’s game, players from both teams embraced in an apparent show of solidarity.

American defender Anthony Robinson was seen embracing Ramin Rezaian, who appeared distraught, as he cried when the Fulham player embraced him, and reassured Abolfadl Jalali, who knelt on the field after the match ended.

Josh Sargent relieves Saeed Ezzatullah after Iran's World Cup exit.

Meanwhile, Josh Sargent, DeAndre Yedlin, and Timothy Weah crouched to comfort Saeed Ezzatullah, who buried his head in his hands as he sat on the lawn addressing his team’s loss.

“We know first and foremost as competitors what it feels like to lose,” Zimmerman said. “We also know the stakes of the World Cup, and on top of everything they’re dealing with emotionally.

“We just congratulated them on their efforts and our sympathy with them and let them know we are proud of the way they competed on the field in the game last night.”

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